South Korea-based music companies are going to have a major impact on the US industry in 2023 (even more than already have).
Bang Si-Hyuk the Chairman of HYBE, the company behind BTS told CNN the other week that he’s “taking over labels and management companies in America to be able to build [our] infrastructure” and pointed to Latin music and afrobeats as two areas that are “very rapidly growing”.
Plus, HYBE America (now run by Scooter Braun) announced last month it was buying Atlanta-born Quality Control for a sum worth approximately $300 million (pHYBE already acquired Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings for over $1 billion in 2021).
HYBE rival SM Entertainment, meanwhile, whose management recently fought off HYBE’s takeover attempt, also has plans to expand globally via the US by way of acquisition, and recently revealed in an investor filing that it plans to spend USD ≈$150 million on buying one or multiple labels in the US.
Now, K-pop company Kakao Entertainment, the entertainment division of Kakao Corp, which is currently bidding for majority stake in SM, has revealed its own plans to expand in the US and globally.
Kakao has partnered with Sony Music‘s Columbia Records via its Kakao Entertainment America division, which kicks off with the “global management” of one of its Starship Entertainment subsidiary’s rising stars, IVE.
With IVE’s first full-length album titled I’ve IVE (I Have IVE) set to be released on April 10, Kakao says the partnership will support the global music distribution, local marketing, and promotion of the album in North America as well as the group’s pre-release track Kitsch to be released on March 27.
Kakao says the partnership will allow it to expand its music distribution network in the US and “elevate its position in the global market”.
According to a media release, since debuting in December 2021, IVE have become “a K-pop powerhouse group”, with consecutive hits such as ELEVEN, LOVE DIVE, and After LIKE.
Kakao says that these three singles have already sold more than three million copies combined and that in just two years since the group’s debut, IVE have won 74 Korean and international music awards.
The group’s global activities started with the release of the Japanese version of LOVE DIVE last year in addition to performances in Japan. With the release of this first full-length album, Kakao says that it now plans for the group to expand their global reach, with a key focus on North America.
Following IVE’s North America debut, Kakao Entertainment says it will continue to “support the growth of its artists’ overseas careers while accelerating the global expansion of its music business”.
In addition to Starship Entertainment, Kakao Entertainment owns various other labels including IST Entertainment, Antenna, and EDAM.
With Kakao Entertainment America as the center of the operation, the company says it now plans to “implement a comprehensive management system to support its artists’ overseas tours, promotions, and album releases in partnership with leading global entertainment companies, and seek diverse collaboration to expand its music investment and distribution businesses”.
Kakao also says it will “pursue synergies within its vast IP value chain that connect music, story, and media businesses in collaboration with Tapas Entertainment, North American subsidiary in the story sector”.
The goal, says Kakao, is to “expand the company’s influence as a global entertainment company representing K-culture and solidify its presence and status in the global market”.
“This partnership holds significant meaning for us. By strengthening the production and distribution capabilities of our music and artists in North America, we look forward to increasing the global competitiveness of Kakao Entertainment’s music business.”
Joseph Chang, Kakao Entertainment America
Joseph Chang, Head of Kakao Entertainment America, said: “We’re thrilled to be embarking on IVE’s global journey with Columbia Records, a company with a rich history in pop music.
“This partnership holds significant meaning for us. By strengthening the production and distribution capabilities of our music and artists in North America, we look forward to increasing the global competitiveness of Kakao Entertainment’s music business.”Music Business Worldwide